French cardinal to represent Pope Francis in ‘mercy’ confab
MANILA — No less than a direct envoy of Pope Francis will visit the Philippines this month for the 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (Wacom 4).
The pope has appointed French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin as his representative throughout the Congress from Jan. 16 to 20.
Fr. Prospero Tenorio, Wacom Asia Secretary General, said the the papal legate is also expected to deliver the pope’s message to the participants of the international church event.
Barbarin, 66, has been the archbishop of Lyon since 2002. He was made a cardinal in 2003 and joined the conclaves that elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 and Pope Francis in 2013.
Organizers also formally invited President Rodrigo Duterte to attend the Wacom’s opening Mass to be officiated by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at the Manila Cathedral on Jan. 16.
Tenorio said they extended the invitation through a letter sent to Duterte but they are still awaiting a response from the President.
He expressed hope that Duterte would grace the occasion as an opportunity for the Church and government to further work together for the welfare of the Filipinos, especially the poor.
“This is a good opportunity… there is always room for conversion, room for the church and government to work together,” Tenorio said.
Aside from Manila, the event is set to bring delegates to three other locations: Padre Pio National Shrine in Santo Tomas, Batangas on Jan. 18: National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Marilao, Bulacan on Jan. 19; and Parish of St Catherine of Alexandria, Diocese of Balanga in Bataan on Jan. 20.
The Congress also feature a wide array of speakers including Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna and president of the WACOM.
With the theme “Communion in Mercy; Mission for Mercy”, the gathering aims to accelerate the “culture of mercy” in the Church and in the world.
“We hope that this important event in the universal Church could be a moment to nurture the fruits of the Holy Year of Mercy,” Cardinal Tagle said.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president, said the WACOM of “our communion and unity in mercy.”
“We are here because of the mercy of God. We are here sent by God for a mission of mercy,” he said. CBCPNews